As the Florida sun kisses your skin…
…and you hear the beating drum of the Warchant echoing through the air from Landis Green, you are encompassed by an atmosphere that is like none other in college football. By no means do I consider myself an expert on the game day experiences of other schools, in fact quite the opposite. Having only been exposed to game days at Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, and LSU, my personal experiences are limited at best.
You hear the clicking of the turnstiles as you enter the stadium, and the fan voices besiege you all at once as your ears try to make sense of the humming bellow. “Programs, get your programs!” and general expected conversations such as “Travis Hunter is the next Deion Sanders,” or, “Charlie Ward is the GOAT” occasionally jump through the chaos for your ears to make out the words.
The smell of the food carries through the passages underneath the stadium, tickling your nose and welcoming you as it does every time you enter the nether regions of Doak Campbell Stadium. This encompasses your senses, luring you to the nearest souvenir, Seminole-cup stocked concession. The smell only diminishes when you enter the dripping, wet sewer of the bathrooms where the sounds of the constantly running “troughs” send anxiety running through your body, as I would imagine a cave dungeon did in times long forgotten.
It’s then time for the most memorable experience for me. An experience every Florida State fan, young and old, can probably relate.
Walking up the ramp….
Of course the Warchant and team entrance gives you goosebumps. Of course the roar of the crowd is something unforgettable. But, for me, it’s that first time you escape the cavernous feel under the stadium and walk that ramp and you are greeted by the bright sun. A sun you just experienced outside of the stadium, but it feels…brighter.. it feels… more warming, as if you hadn’t seen it for days.
For that split second, there’s no fighting through crowded walkways. There’s no worries in the world. There’s only this split second silence as you welcome that heavenly feeling just before you’re hit with the only thing I can describe as, PRIDE. Pride for being a Seminole.
The band playing, the crowd yelling, the announcer blaring…
That feeling that’s more than goosebumps… that feeling that can only be described as… divine, celestial, or almost angelic.
My parents were boosters all throughout the 80’s and 90’s. My parents attended booster meetings at NAS Pensacola when Coach Bowden would be able to sit at your table and have one on one conversations with you. They would bring me back signed pictures they didn’t have to wait in line to receive with things such as “Bryan, keep up the good grades,” scribbled on them- before handlers personalized his signatures.
I attended countless games in the 90’s. It started off with the Louisiana-Monroe type games where extra tickets were commonplace. This built up to the Choke at the Doak, and countless Gator/Hurricane matchups. I’ve experienced walking under the bridge chanting “FMFFM” as a child, and parking at frat houses and walking through the cut out fences in the backyard to Pensacola Ave. All of this taking place after a tradition of eating at Jim and Milts BBQ and urinating on the plastic gator in the urinals.
These all are game day experiences I’ll never forget growing up.
But, at Doak Campbell Stadium, the thing that never changes for me, whether I was 8 or 38, it’s that split-second feeling of euphoria that defines my gameday experience at the greatest place on earth…
Bobby Bowden Field.